Friends Today, Foes Tomorrow

Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zeidan vowed today to take a hard line on militias and other armed groups, urging them to leave their headquarters and join the country’s fledgling security forces.

He failed, however, to explain publicly why ministries continue to fund these militias or why in Tripoli and Benghazi the government is continuing to rely on them to help fight crime. See my recent Daily Beast article here.

On Sunday, the chief of the defense staff, Yousef Mangoush, faces a grilling from Libyan lawmakers. Let’s hope they ask him why operational funds have been diverted from the security forces to the militias.

 

 

 

 

Political Exclusion Would Undermine Libya

Good analysis by Mohamed Eljarh in Foreign Policy on the problems – and provenance – of the political isolation law currently being debated – roiling more like it – the Libyan parliament, otherwise known as the General National Congress.

His conclusion strikes me as spot on: “The law in its current form would undermine current efforts to achieve national reconciliation in Libya. It would polarize politics and society, hindering Libya’s transition to democracy and rule of law.”

I reported a few days ago for VOA on the proposed law – and the political infighting behind it. A web version of the radio report is here.

Anger At Libyan Court Ruling On Multiple Wives

Tripoli

Human rights campaigner Farida Allaghi tells me for a VOA radio piece that Islam is being hijacked. That’s her reaction to a Libyan Supreme Court ruling overturning a marriage law that required a husband to secure the approval of a first wife before taking a second.

Allaghi says: “Here again, it is very disappointing and it is very sad that now they play with the interpretation of Islam in the 21st century to fit their agenda and to fit their interests and to fit their own ideology as men.”

You can read the web-version piece here.

Ansar Al-Sharia Is Back

My latest piece in Newsweek/Daily Beast explores how  Libya has tapped local militias including the one blamed for the attack on the U.S. consulate—to patrol Tripoli and Benghazi amidst a spiraling crime wave.

“Libya’s leaders have given the go-ahead for revolutionary militias, including the powerful Islamist Nawasi brigade and Ansar al-Sharia—the militia blamed for the assault last September on the U.S. consulate—to combat drug dealers and a crime wave that is disrupting daily life in the capital and in the eastern city of Benghazi.” Read the full article here.

What Makes Some Join Al Qaeda?

Tripoli

From my Daily Beast exclusive today: “What makes someone join Al Qaeda? In the case of Abu Yahya al-Libi, the Al Qaeda luminary killed in an American drone strike in Pakistan last June, his older brother has no doubt. Americans are culpable for his sibling’s embrace of terrorism. He draws a direct line between al-Libi’s recruitment by al Qaeda and the suffering he endured at the hands of American interrogators using techniques similar to those portrayed in the movie Zero Dark Thirty.

Lamenting American missteps in the war on terror, Abd Al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid says his brother had been in Afghanistan for 15 years, as a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, but that he, ‘like all of us shunned Al Qaeda.’ That is, until his mistreatment at Bagram Air Base. ‘He was tortured very aggressively and humiliated. Naturally, for each action there’s a reaction,’ he sighs.”